Massive cash boost set for 17 community groups across West Suffolk

A £350,000 cash boost has been recommended for 17 local community groups by West Suffolk Council through its Community Chest initiative.

Since 2015 West Suffolk Council and its former authorities have given nearly £2.1 million to community groups and other organisations as part of its families and communities work.

The group of councillors considering the applications, known as the Grant Working Party, had to consider those from 46 organisations.

Recommendations from the Grant Working Party will now go to Cabinet on January 14 for consideration.

Proposed grants include one of £240,000 for Citizens Advice West Suffolk.

Subject to agreement from Cabinet, examples of some of the work include improving mental health and wellbeing, supporting families such as parents whose children have additional needs, backing counselling services for bereavement and mental health; funding advice and advocacy services especially for people who are vulnerable to help lift them out of poverty; funding support groups and services to help vulnerable adults; money for arts, sports and young people; and activities to encourage volunteering and better networking as well as improved community facilities.

Robert Everitt, Portfolio Holder for Families and Communities at West Suffolk Council, said: “All these organisations are doing vital work in their communities from improving mental health to supporting vulnerable people to keeping community facilities going. The council is not required by law to fund any of these, but we see it as a priority and think the work and support that is going on in our communities is not only important but has real tangible benefits.

“That is why Community Chest was set up and sits alongside our other families and community work, such as providing training, or locality budgets awarded by individual councillors. All the applications had merits and we looked at all of them very closely. Where we could not fund them, we do offer support particularly to identify other potential of other sources of funding. Since 2015 the scheme has awarded nearly £2.1 million to local groups and we will once again be running it next year.”

Proposals will go to Cabinet for a final decision on the funding.

As part of the council’s work to support community groups training sessions have been set up. These include:

Writing a Successful Funding Application – at College Heath Road, Training Room, on Friday, January 31, from 10am to 1pm;

Introduction to Business Planning – at College Heath Road, Council Chamber, on Thursday, February 27, from 9.30am to 4pm;

Writing a Successful Funding Application – at Haverhill House, for April 7, from 10am to 1pm; and

Crowd Funding Workshop – at West Suffolk House, room 12, on Friday, April 17, from 10am to 1pm.

The list of potential projects to be funded are: Befriending Scheme, Haverhill, £4,420; Second Chance Support Group, £3,500; Steel Bones, Mildenhall, £3,500; Suffolk Mind, Haverhill, £4,500; Sharing Parenting – Special Needs, £17,000; Cruse Bereavement, West Suffolk, £8,000; Alumah CIO, £5,870; REACH, Haverhill, £10,000; Relate, Bury St Edmunds, £4,500; Citizens Advice West Suffolk – Core, across west Suffolk, £240,000; Home-Start Mid and West Suffolk – Sensory, £14,000; Our Special Friends, across west Suffolk, £3,500; Bury Theatre Workshop, £4,000; Haverhill Community Trust. £14,750.00; Newmarket Day Centre CIO, £10,000; The Erskine Centre, Chedburgh, £5,000; and The Turner Hall, Newmarket, £5,000.

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